An investigation has been launched into police actions after five car crash victims lay undiscovered for two days. Eve Smith, Darcy Ross and Rafel Jeanne died in the crash, while two people remain seriously ill in hospital. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched an investigation into the police response.
The wreckage of the VW Tiguan was found in a copse of trees and hidden from the view of the busy road, residential houses and the nearby garden centre.
Tamzin Samuels, 20, a friend of the young women and who helped in the search effort, said: “I do think the police could have done a lot more in putting the helicopters out earlier.
“They only posted the appeal an hour before the girls were found. We found them before the police found them – we rang the police.
“The search party found the girls before the police found the girls.
“I think that speaks volumes really, they had all that equipment, and we had cars when we were looking.
“They were really popular girls, the life of the party, and it was really out of character for them to do what they did, which is why we knew something was wrong.”
Two women, who were friends of the Loughlin family, questioned the police response.
They said: “Everyone knew it was a crash, it was just a matter of waiting until they found them.
“The police were terrible. I don’t think they took it seriously. The families said it was out of character for them to go missing and the police should have listened to them. Shane’s mum was up all weekend worried sick. The boys from Cardiff, all their friends were driving around looking for them, it was those people looking who found them, not the police.”
Tributes have been paid on social media to those who died.
A friend of Mr Loughlin posted: “I’m so proud of us all pulling together out there searching for our dear friends last night. It’s heart breaking what’s happened to Rafel Jeanne and those two girls. My body is still shaking and I can’t stop being sick the thought of them all there all of that time.
“Many times I have driven past, it just makes me so sad and to how helpless our Shane Loughlin must of felt trapped inside.”
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IOPC director David Ford said: “My thoughts go out to the families and friends of those who have tragically lost their lives, to those who have been injured, and indeed to the many people who have been affected by this incident. After careful assessment of referrals from Gwent Police and South Wales Police we have decided to independently investigate how police responded to the missing person reports.
“We will be examining what information police had, the grading given to any risk assessments, and the steps taken by police to locate the missing people prior to the Volkswagen Tiguan being found just after midnight on Monday.
“We will also consider what communication took place between the two forces and whether police action was appropriate and followed relevant policy and procedures. Our investigation is at a very early stage.
“We will be contacting the families involved to express our sympathies, explain our role ,and set out how our investigation will progress. We are aware of the significant community concern about the tragic events that have unfolded and would like to assure everyone that we will conduct a thorough and timely investigation.”
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